Buoyant Origin to give €100m to shareholders

Agri-services business, Origin Enterprises is set to return up to €100m to shareholders, via a tender offer, on top of increasing its full-year dividend payment.

The Dublin-based group, which is nearly 70% owned by Irish-Swiss bakery group, Aryzta, is making the move, which is expected to be formally passed at an EGM in November, on the back of the recent completion of the sale of its non-core marine proteins and oils business.

Origin completed the €93m sale of its 50% stake in the Welcon Invest joint venture — to its Norwegian partner, Austevoll Seafoods — last month.

Speaking yesterday, at the publication of a strong set of annual results, Origin’s chief executive, Tom O’Mahony, reiterated that the sale was part of the group’s strategic focus on its core agri-services business and provided “the opportunity to crystallise value for shareholders”.

Origin’s full-year results — for the 12 months to the end of July — showed impressive growth, buoyed by a strong fourth quarter performance.

Agri-services revenue grew by just under 6% to €1.42bn, with pre-tax profits up by 11.7% to €84.6m and group operating profit rising by just over 10% to €90.7m. Basic earnings per share were up by nearly 66% at 52.84c, and group net debt fell by 56.4% to €29.56m.

The proposed €100m capital return will also tie-in nicely with a 15% increase in the full-year dividend payment, which has gone up from 15c to 17.25c per share.

The company will still have €150m-€200m to spend on acquisitions, over the next two years.

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